MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former suburban Minneapolis police officer who said she mistook her handgun for her Taser when she killed Daunte Wright will be sentenced on Friday for manslaughter.
Kim Potter was convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 murder of Wright, a 20-year-old black motorist. She will only be sentenced on the most serious charge of first-degree murder, which carries a lump sum sentence of just over seven years in prison.
Prosecutors said the alleged sentence was appropriate, while the defense is asking for a lesser sentence, including probation only.
Potter is expected to make a statement during her sentencing hearing before Judge Regina Chu, and her attorneys also plan to read statements from others who support her. The state plans to file victim impact statements, in which victims and family members can speak about how Wright’s death affected them.
Wright was killed after Brooklyn Center officers arrested him for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The shooting, which came amid Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in the murder of George Floyd, sparked days of protests outside the Brooklyn Center police station marked by tear gas and clashes between protesters and police.
Evidence at Potter’s trial showed officers learned he had an outstanding warrant for a weapons possession charge and they attempted to arrest him when he walked away. The video showed Potter repeatedly yelling that she was going to taser Wright, but she had her gun drawn and shot him in the chest.
For someone with no criminal history, like Potter, the state sentencing guidelines for first-degree manslaughter call for a sentence ranging from just over six years to about 8 and a half years in prison, the presumed sentence being a little over seven years. .
Prosecutors initially argued that aggravating factors warranted a sentence above the indicative range. They said Potter abused his authority as an officer and his actions caused greater than normal danger to others.
Nothing in the court filing indicates that they have officially withdrawn this argument, but in a new document, they say the alleged sentence is appropriate and “takes into account the main elements of the conviction: the death of Daunte Wright and the ‘recklessness of the accused’.
Defense attorneys, asking for a lighter sentence, argued that Wright was the assailant and that he would be alive if he had obeyed orders. Their argument for probation said she had no priors, was remorseful, had an exemplary career, and had the support of family and friends. They also said her risk of committing the same crime again was low because she was no longer a police officer, and they said she would do well on probation.
Prosecutor Matt Frank disagreed, but wrote that if the court finds jail was not warranted, Potter should get 10 years probation and be required to spend a year in jail, talk to the forces about the dangers of confusion of arms and talk to Wright. family about their loss if they want her to.
Frank also disagreed with the defense’s arguments that Potter should receive a sentence below the guideline range. If the court finds Potter’s case less serious than the typical case of first-degree manslaughter, he wrote, the court should hand down a sentence of between four and just over seven years, the presumptive sentences for second degree and first degree manslaughter.
In Minnesota, inmates who behave well are presumed to serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison and the remainder on supervised release, commonly referred to as parole. This means that if Potter receives an alleged sentence of around seven years, she will serve around four years and nine months in custody, with the rest on parole.
Potter has been in Shakopee Women’s Prison since the guilty verdict.
Find full AP coverage of the Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright
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